Saturday February 9, 2013

GREAT BARRINGTON

David McKearnan died last week after a tough illness. David worked on the Street (Wall) and once he retired, he and his wonderful wife, Betsy, both worked tirelessly for Berkshire County causes like the Berkshire Garden Center.

You get to know a man by how he treats you, and David was always very kind to me -- although, I admit, he liked to get to the heart of things with anyone he engaged in serious conversation.

Our talks inevitably took place at the Saturday morning farmers market in Great Barrington where all the good folks of the town come together to buy groceries, vegetables and baked goods. David would be sitting at his table, often in great pain but always willing to talk.

Another way you can tell about a man is by the way his wife treats him and David's Betsy treated him like royalty. She was protective yet always gave him his dignity. She encouraged others to interact with him even when he was suffering in the worst throes of his cancer.

He saw both big city medical people and those who treated him with kindness in the Berkshires. He didn't complain, but he was certainly able to share his experiences with you.

Through it all, he was always interested in what you were doing. As a Harvard graduate and a business whiz, there were times he could cut straight to your issues. It sometimes hurt, but it was often on target.


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He was an incredibly effective fundraiser, understanding that when your cause was good, there was no reason to shy away from asking for money. He served on the Board of the Berkshire Taconic Foundation and did things like fly to New Orleans to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He was unceasing in calling on his friends and acquaintances for help.

From a personal perspective, I am going to miss those Saturday morning talks with this very honest and decent man. I know how proud David was of his wife and kids. I will never forget when Betsy was being honored by the Berkshire Theatre Group. I think he was the proudest man in the Berkshires as he worked tirelessly to make sure that the event was done right.

When there's a death in your community, it's like seeing a piece of fabric with a thread missing. David will be missed.

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This newspaper ran an article last week about a dramatic rise in the price of gas -- 14 cents in a single week. Appropriately, the reporter called the usual sources and received the usual answers.

It seems that the rise in prices was due to "a number of causes." We are told that "tensions in the Middle East" are right up there. There are the continued ramifications of Hurricane Sandy. There is fear that enough oil won't be produced and on and on. That's why the prices are going up.

It has absolutely nothing to do with greed. Nothing, I tell you.

On a different but related front, I have a bridge to sell you that spans the East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

I have kept this bridge in pristine condition, personally polishing every portion of the edifice. The bridge comes with my personal guarantee that I will quickly come to make any adjustments it may need after you take possession.

The bridge comes with a new coat of paint and, if you like, I would be willing to add several toll booths which will help offset your original investment. If you have trouble financing the deal.

I have a business associate in Nigeria with whom you can do business. He assures me that with a slight down payment on your part, millions of dollars of financing will be forthcoming. That's why the gas prices are going up.

Alan Chartock, a Great Barrington resident, is president and CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio and a professor emeritus of communications at SUNY-Albany.